Alameda News

Last week’s conversation piece on development at Alameda Point was such a success that this week, I decided to tackle another big topic around town: Street safety for cyclists and pedestrians.

Spring is here, and even with the drought, flowers are blooming, and trees are putting on their frills. Over at Megan Small Photography, Megan Small is getting ready to celebrate her first year of business in Alameda (her sixth year overall) – and keeping busy with the demand that spring and the quickly approaching Mother’s and Father’s Day holidays create.

Highlights:

  • The City Council will consider amended five-year contracts for public safety workers on April 29 which would go into effect in November if approved.
  • The contracts establish a trust fund for retiree health benefits. The city would pay $7.5 million into the trust fund over 10 years; workers would pay between 2 percent and 4 percent of the top step of pay for their position into the fund over the next decade.
  • The contracts also offer wage increases that would raise pay at least 9.3 percent and change pension payouts to reflect a safety retiree’s top salary, and not their top three years of pay.

City officials are recommending the City Council approve a permanent civilian staffer to create and execute plans to help Alameda bounce back quickly from a range of disasters – the third position the city is creating to better prepare it for disasters.

The proposal comes roughly a year after the city lost a lucrative grant that could have helped fund a chief resilience officer who would have served as a high-level point person who would work with a broad array of stakeholders to identify and address resilience challenges.

East Bay water officials are imposing mandatory restrictions on water use to conserve water in the face of an extreme drought.

Officials with the East Bay Municipal Utility District are requiring customers to cut their water use by 20 percent compared with their 2013 use, in order to comply with new state regulations requiring the district to cut water use by that amount and to deal with shrinking water reserves and uncertainty about where additional water might come from or when the drought may end.

The city has prepared an $80.5 million general fund budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year that contains no cuts, a projected $1.4 million surplus and a fund balance of more than $30 million. But salaries and benefits are expected to push the city’s spending to increase to $83.1 million in 2016-17, which could mean some depletion of the balance or cuts are in the offing.

A few weeks ago, I had an interesting e-mail exchange with a friend regarding the redevelopment of Alameda Point. While the conversation about the Point at City Hall seems to revolve chiefly around whether or not to build homes at the Point and what kind of traffic those homes might generate, my friend offered a more nuanced view of the pros and cons of proposed development on the former Naval Air Station.

Spring has sprung on the Island, making this great time to get out and ride a bike or take a leisurely stroll down our lovely tree-lined streets and picturesque avenues. It’s no secret Alameda offers an incredible variety of architecture and beachfront vistas to enjoy, but next time you’re out and about, slow down a bit and take a closer look at the amazing art that is all around us.

Dear Editor,

A new record has been achieved for Alameda Education Foundation’s Adopt A Classroom program this year. In March, we made our 189th presentation for the 2014-15 school year. To put it in perspective, six years ago we did 39 adoptions, and we have now topped that by 160; $94,500 has been donated to classrooms thanks to generous members of our community.

Authors of a new analysis claim that slow housing growth is a cause of rising rents, saying the nation’s least affordable housing markets are the ones where new housing permits are not keeping up with population growth.

The analysis from home listing site Zillow says rental affordability is “as bad as it’s ever been in the U.S.” due in part to a lack of new, affordable units to meet demand. It lists San Francisco and San Jose as two of the least affordable metropolitan areas in the country; Oakland – which has thousands of new homes in the works – apparently wasn’t studied.

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